What are NSAIDs?

These are typically over-the-counter medications used by the general population to treat a variety of symptoms, i.e. headaches, arthritis, sports injuries, cramps, and allergies. NSAIDs are products containing:

  1. Ibuprofen, naproxen and ketoprofen (Advil, Motrin, Aleve)
  2. Aspirin (Bayer and Excedrin)
  3. Common cold a flu medications (Advil Cold and Sinus, Aleve Cold and Sinus, etc.)
  4. Meloxicam (Mobic) and Cox-2 Inhibitors (Celebrex, Bextra, Vioxx)

Tylenol, which is Acetaminophen, is not an NSAID.

Effects and Side Effects of NSAID Use

Though pain and swelling can be reduced in the acute stages using NSAIDs, they medications do not promote soft-tissue healing and inhibit bone healing. What this means for you, is that degenerative joint changes can worsen with the prolonged use of NSAIDs. Other problems caused by overuse can range from mild stomach upset to stomach bleeding and ulcer formation. These problems can begin within the first week of ingesting NSAIDs.

Every person who takes NSAIDs can be at some level of risk for developing a stomach problem. 80& of individuals who acquire a serious problem as a result of overuse, such as gastrointestinal bleeding, have no warning symptoms.

Who is at Risk?

There are several factors that can increase the risk of developing serious side-effects as a result of NSAID overuse.

  • History of ulcers
  • Regular alcohol consumption
  • Prolonged NSAID use
  • Taking several different meds all containing NSAIDs
  • Taking higher than the recommended dosage
  • Over the age of 60
  • Use of steriod medications (i.e. prednisone) or blood thinners (warfarin or Coumadin)

NSAID Alternatives

So what can you do in order to prevent overuse of NSAIDs? There are a number of factors that can and will increase inflammation. Insufficient sleep, mental stressors, and too much or too little exercise to name a few.

In order to decrease inflammation and reduce your risk of chronic diseases, consider a couple of key points:

  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle
  • Utilize proper nutrition
  • Consider Chiropractic care
  • Add supplementation to your daily regiment
  • Try natural Anti-inflammatories

Consider Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic manipulation and care can replace NSAIDs as a means of reducing pain and inflammation in many cases. Chiropractic physicians are trained to relieve pain and improve joint function through natural therapies such as chiropractic adjustments, trigger point therapies, and physio-therapies.

Choose a Healthy Diet

For optimum health, most experts agree that a ratio in the range 1:1 to 4:1 for omega-6 and omega3 fatty acids. The typical American diet consists of a 20:1 or 30:1 ration of omega-6 and to few omega-3 fatty acids. Reduce inflammatory components in your diet by increasing your intake of low-calorie, nutrient dense foods, such as lean meat, fish, skinless chicken, vegetables, fruits and nuts.

Consumption of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids may help to decrease chronic pain and inflammation, in turn reducing the need for prescription and OTC NSAIDs. Omega-3 acids can be found in green leafy vegetables, flaxseed, flaxseed oil, canola oil, oily fish, seafood, and fish oils.


Introducing a good multivitamin, magnesium, fish oil, vitamin D and probiotics have been shown to be beneficial.

Talk to your health care provider before introducing fish oils, green teas, garlic, ginko biloba and vitamin E to your daily diet if you are currently taking Warfarin or any other potent blood thinner.

Natural Anti-Inflammatories

  • 2g of omega-3 fatty acids reduce joint pain and the need for NSAIDs with 50% of people
  • Boswella is effective for arthritis and muscle pain
  • Tumeric may be protective against inflammation
  • Willow bark has been shown to be effective in reducing pain and inflammation
  • Ginger can help with reducing inflammation